02 March 2015

The Opportunity for the President is There

President Aquino III
Whatever President Benigno Aquino III does from now on will be scrutinized, dissected and criticized by those who have grand political ambition in the 2016 national election. These ambitious politicians will use all the available options at their disposal to gain power by discrediting the present administration.

Unfortunately for them, most Filipinos are now much more aware of their political environment compared to the time when President Ferdinand Marcos was able to dupe everyone into accepting the false pretentions of Martial Law. They know that President Aquino did not pocket a single public fund to build ‘white elephant’ projects, throw lavish parties for Hollywood stars or enrich political cronies like the former dictator.

Filipinos also cannot ignore the impact of better governance reforms which led to raise the country’s Transparency International’s rank from 134th, trailing Nigeria, when President Aquino took office, to 94th. The Philippines can also boast the international-grade credit ratings to prove it.

However, there is much more that needs to be done in the next two years. Efforts need to go on overdrive to unravel the deep-seated corruption that took hold during the terms of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Joseph Estrada. The good-governance revolution needs to continue despite earlier judicial setbacks, scandals and public discontent.

When President Aquino delivered his State of the National Address (SONA), it is clear that he will not take everything thrown against him sitting down. But he needs to do it fast and convince the middle class, which still comprises the largest bulk of the population, that he really means business.

In the next two years, the President has enough time to institutionalize the reforms and prevent succeeding administrations from untangling the achievements that turned this economy from a punchline into an investment darling. This could mean that the government needs to expand further its efforts to curb the corruption than siphons off so many of the spoils of today's 5.7 percent growth rate.

The President must go further to strengthen the national balance sheet; increase competitiveness; improve transparency; invest in education; upgrade infrastructure for industries from energy to tourism; broaden population-control efforts; and ease limits on foreign ownership to woo more investment. These are not simple tasks. President Aquino needs to wield stronger commitment than he has shown so far despite the waning popularity and approval ratings.

We all know that fixing the economy is not a six-year job. However, the President has a good chance to lay down the foundation for economic restructuring. He will lose some friends in doing so. It will also entail huge political costs. However, the window of opportunity is there if he is willing to take it.


01 March 2015

Arkansas Disapproves 'Special Treatment' for LGBTs

Fighting Back Homofascism
The people are slowly fighting back to gain their right on the kind of person they want to associate with. This right was unceremoniously being trampled by unilateral decision of federal judges that forced business owners to serve people whose chosen behavior contradicts their beliefs and religion.

Now, the time has come to take those rights back. Nobody was supposed to act as slaves to people whose loathsome lifestyle are compelling everyone to cater to their lustful needs and immoral consumption habits.

One of those who fought back hard are the people of Arkansas. Majority of the population has asked the State legislators to pass a bill that limits municipalities from extending forced protections to any class not protected by state law. Since existing state law does not include “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” as protected classes, there is no logical reason to include them.

Fortunately, the lawmakers heard them and they obliged. Even the indifference of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) was hailed as a silent approval even if there was no clear signature or vetoing.

In addition to blocking further extensions, SB 202 will invalidate pre-existing protections that a few and loud homosexuals imposed in cities like Little Rock and Eureka Springs. Eureka Springs having just passed its ordinance earlier this month to pre-empt the bill. Tennessee passed a similar law in 2011 and though cities have since still advanced LGBT protections, their validity under state law has not been tested.

SB 202 was passed specifically thanks to the support of various stakeholders and sector representatives who had enough of this so-called homosexual lifestyle being forced in their throats.

Even the corporate community acknowledged that going against the decision of the majority is bad for business attracting the anger of loyal clients. Hence, they decided to keep quiet and abide with the decision.

The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce told ThinkProgress, “We have no position on that piece of legislation.” Walmart, which is based in Arkansas and has corporate LGBT protections, only spoke out on the bill recently, mere hours before it was to become law without Hutchinson’s signature. Tyson Foods, another prominent Arkansas business that allegedly is protecting gay employees, remained silent on the legislation.

It was businesses who helped defeat a similar “right to associate” bill in Arizona last year that was enhanced by “religious freedom” language. However, no the tide has turned.

There are also similar movements being carried out and initiated in Wyoming right now with support from business groups, retail outlets, civil society organizations, parent-teacher associations, youth-oriented groups, among others. All of all of whom argue that giving the people the right to associate with whoever they want, in business or personal matters, is not within the purview of anybody, especially federal judges.


28 February 2015

Oklahoma Fights Back Gay Supremacists

The people of Oklahoma had enough. They want a state that follows traditional definition of marriage and are opposing unilateral decisions by some judges to impose their unpopular opinion on same-sex marriage.

Lawmakers can feel the rising emotion of the general public and compelled them to propose a legislative measure that punishes any local or state employee who issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples. the bill will be heading to a vote in the state House of Representatives after a committee convincingly approved the legislation a few days ago.

The bill is one of several in the Republican-dominated statehouse to impose restrictions on same-sex marriages that have been proposed after a U.S. federal judge last year ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The bill called the "Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act" prohibits taxpayer funds, including government salaries, to be used for any activity that supports same-sex marriage. It also says that those who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples can be subject to removal from office.

The bill's author, Representative Sally Kern, a Republican, said the measure is a response to U.S. courts overstepping their authority by forcing Oklahoma to recognize gay marriage.

As expected, the very small, but loud, groups for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT) will try to oppose the bill. It remains unclear how they can convince the majority to support their deviant and unnatural behavior.


27 February 2015

Police Found Cache of Firearms from Jonrick Windsor

Arms Cache
Rising criminality has compelled the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify their efforts against illegal firearms and lawless elements. This was made more evident when the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) personnel arrested a male person after he was figured in an indiscriminate firing in Quezon City on Valentine’s Day.

Director Police Chief Superintendent Joel Pagdilao identified the suspect as Jonrick Windsor, 41 years old, married, businessman and a resident of No. 386 Galguera Compound, Brgy. Talipapa, Quezon City.

According to the complainant identified as Jeremy Quizon, at around 6:00 P.M. on 14 February 2015 he heard gunshots emanating outside their compound. A moment later he heard another burst of fire and when he got out of their terrace he saw the suspect holding a gun alighting from his vehicle a Toyota Innova with plate number ZRD 177.

When the responding officers arrived, bystanders pointed to Windsor as the one who fired a gun indiscriminately and when the police officers accosted the suspect, he resisted arrest. He was, however, subdued with the effort of other policemen in the area.

Recovered from the suspect was a 9mm caliber loaded with magazine with ammunition and when he was bodily frisked, another three (3) magazines were discovered. The operatives also collected from the suspect’s vehicle the following:
  • one (1) Escort Magnum Shotgun
  • one (1) KG-9 Lugger Sub Machine Gun
  • twenty three (23) live ammunition of 9mm
  • eleven (11) live ammunition of shotgun
  • one (1) magazine of caliber 40
  • two boxes of 9mm spent shells
  • personal IDs of the suspects
  • firearms license of a 9mm
  • expired PTC under the name of the suspect
The suspect was charged for violation of RA 10591 (Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Law), Malicious Mischief, Resistance and Disobedience to Agent of Person in Authority and Alarm and Scandal.

PCSupt Pagdilao said that the arrest of the suspects is part of the QCPD’s continuous crime prevention and reduction program with the implementation of “Oplan Lambat Sibat” as ordered by no less than Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Mar Roxas and Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista.

He also commended the operatives for their swift response for a call of such police assistance.


26 February 2015

Filipino Terrorist Convicted in the U.S.

Pinoy Terrorista
Finally, the American courts have decided to convict a Filipino extremist for terrorism.

Philippine national Ralph Kenneth De Leon received a 25-year prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of three terrorism related charges last fall.

In his letter to US District Judge Virgina Philipps, the 26-year-old Laguna-born De Leon said he had no excuse for his senseless action, describing his conversion from Catholicism to Islam as overzealous. He also admitted that he was not mad at the government but at himself.

As he denounced extremist violence in the letter, he said that upon his release he hopes to speak before mosques and youth about the peaceful teachings of the Quran.

De Leon’s co-defendant Soheil Omar Kabir, the alleged ring leader of a terroristic plot was also convicted of four counts and also received 25 years. The two were planning to recruit and train several men to go to the Middle East and join Al Qaeda.

De Leon’s lawyer David Thomas tried to downplay the severity of his client’s culpability even if it was obvious during the hearing that De Leon is a very dangerous criminal.

"I’m disappointed. I mean I think he should’ve deserved a sentence in the 10 year range which is what I recommended; very much on par with some of the cases I cited on my brief for conduct that was similar, if not worse than his. One of the factors that I had to deal with is this was a conspiracy. And with respect to conspiracy, it’s not just his own motivations that were at play but those of others. At a certain degree his sentence was higher because of the danger of the other co-defendants and it really wasn’t Mr. De Leon," Thomas said as he exited the courthouse.

Throughout the six-week trial and until now, De Leon had argued that he was entrapped by a confidential informant who persuaded him into organizing the alleged terror plot while Kabir was overseas. What he did not explain is why was he stupid enough to do it anyway.

"There’s definitely going to be an appeal. He’s already signed off on the appeal and I’ve already got it ready to file," Thomas explained.

He added, "We’re hopeful on appeal that the court will see this was really a situation for entrapment. Even though I understand the government’s argument, the judges argument why it’s not, I think the jury should’ve been instructed and I think it would’ve made a difference."

De Leon’s parents shed tears inside the courtroom as the sentence was handed down, but declined to speak on camera. Hopefully, those tears won’t convince the Philippine government to waste precious resources to try and defend the liability of De Leon.